Posted: Jul 27, 2012 5:36 PM
Updated: Jul 27, 2012 7:04 PM
BROWNSVILLE - Relatives of a man shot by Border Patrol agents have filed a lawsuit against the U.S. government.
The family of Juan Pablo Perez Santillan admits he was trying to help people swim across the river to enter illegally into the U.S. The incident happened at 7 a.m. on July 7.
They claim the man didn't have a weapon and posed no threat to the agent who shot him.
Court documents claim that Perez was giving directions to 10 people on how to swim across the Rio Grande into the U.S. The people were divided into two groups. Five people made it across the border, the others, including Perez's brother Damian, were approaching the river banks from on the Mexican side, court records state.
Perez saw the Border Patrol agents and started yelling and waiving his hands in the air to warn the people of the approaching agent, the lawsuit claims.
The lawsuit claims that one or more agents fired at least five times killing Perez.
Border Patrol officials have said that Perez had a weapon and that agents were justified in firing on him.
"You know, rocks are considered lethal and obviously any time you have somebody pointing a weapon at you, again that's a reason to take action against that type of threat," said Border Patrol Assistant Chief Enrique Mendiola. "Our agents are well equipped, they're well trained and they're going to neutralize these threats as they see fit."
The lawsuit claims that Perez was standing legally on his native soil of Mexico before the shooting. The lawsuit contends that Perez's brother yelled for help while looking at Border Patrol agents and they allegedly responded, "Let the dog die."
The lawsuit also claims a pattern of brutality and excessive force by Border Patrol agents.
Perez's lawyer contends the he had right under the U.S. Constitution because he was killed by a Border Patrol agent.